Travelling with valuable trading cards (like Magic the Gathering or Pokemon) can be a bit stressful. Especially if you’re travelling by plane. You want to make sure they stay safe and don’t get damaged. My boyfriend and I recently travelled from Eindhoven to Manchester with 2000+ Magic The Gathering cards (massive thanks to Maud and Mark for these cards!) in our carry on suitcase. We learned a thing or two about travelling with trading cards on the way.
Check-in or carry on?
It obviously depends on how many cards you are taking with you. Generally, I’d highly recommend to take them with you in your carry on bags. Check-in luggage is usually handled quite roughly. In the past, some of my items have broken in check-in luggage. You really don’t want to risk that! It’s better to keep your valuables as close as possible. With carry on bags, you can make sure your luggage isn’t being thrown around.
Because you will have to get your carry on luggage scanned at the airport, it’s better to take your MTG cards (or other trading cards) out along with your electronics and liquid bag. We travelled with 2000+ cards and we put them in a shoebox. When we put them in one of the baskets to get scanned at the airport security. We simply opened the box for the security guard to see the cards.
One problem trading cards could have while going through airport security is that the X-ray sees closely stacked cards as a big, black blob on the screen. They can’t distinguish it from things that could be harmful. It’s better to take them out and carry them in a seethrough plastic deck box. Make sure to always put your most valuable MTG cards in the middle of your box. It’s just a bit of extra safety. In case you need to verify what they are, you can show the security guard without having to take them out. Especially if your cards are valuable, you wouldn’t want to take them out in a rush to show someone who might not understand the value of them.
Even if you’re only carrying a few cards, they can still show up strangely on the X-ray. Especially when they’re sleeved. It’s best to take them out and show the security guards. Tell them they are valuable collectables and ask them to be careful. It’ll save you a lot of hassle.
How to pack your Magic Cards safely?
Packing your Magic Card safely in your backpack or suitcase is incredibly important when travelling by plane. Of course, it’s safer to keep your cards with you in your carry on luggage, but the plane still moves around!
We put our most valuable cards in the middle of the seethrough deck box, to keep them extra safe. The deck box was then placed into the shoebox in which we carried our other (less valuable) cards. We tried to stack a lot of cards into the shoebox so there wouldn’t be any room for unwanted movement once we closed our suitcase.
As you can see, we put the shoebox at the top of the suitcase. We put soft clothes at the bottom so they would work as shock resistance when moving the suitcase around.
If you have a deckbox that isn’t completely full, grab some bulk to fill the box. You want to make sure the cards can’t wiggle around in the box. It’s better to fill it up, so there’s no room for movement. If you don’t have any bulk, fill it with something like a flannel or toilet paper.
During our trip in the Netherlands, we were given these second hand folders for our MTG collection. We filled them up with some clothes and put them on top of the shoebox. It just provided a little more safety for the shoebox and it filled up our suitcase so nothing could move around and get damaged.
Extra safety while flying with MTG cards
If you’re worried about the airport security, you might want to consider buying fast track check-in. Some airports have a special place for fast track security. There is usually a bit more space and you don’t feel rushed by a massive queue behind you. It’s just a bit less stressful.
Don’t pack your deck boxes in the bottom of your suitcase/backpack. Make them easily accessible to be pulled out at the security check. Treat it like an electronic device. Take it out at security and show one of the security guards this is an item that needs to be checked separately.
Always tell the security guards that these cards are valuable and ask them to be careful if they have to inspect them. Most people are very understanding about it if you ask them nicely and explain the situation. People might not be aware of the value of these cards.
Get to the airport early and expect to be pulled aside to explain what you’re carrying. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
I hope this helps you travel safely with your trading cards in the future. If you have any other tips you think I should add, please leave them in a comment below.